With our exploration of the Delaware / Conglomerate Mine now complete I thought it would be helpful to take one last look at the old mine site – this time in terms of the mine’s surface plant layout. The area of land we know today as Delaware is in fact a convalescence of three independent mine companies: the Conglomerate, the Northwest, and the Delaware. These three mines each shaped the landscape in their own ways, and each contributed their own buildings and structures to the final surface plan that developed. In the end we ended up with a landscape that could be broken down into six distinct areas: The Old Delaware Mine, Old Delaware Location, Conglomerate Mine, Warehouse/Manager Row, Conglomerate Shops and Mill, and new Delaware Location. (click on the map above to get a larger version)
OK, so the Delaware isn’t exactly the beginning. But for our discussion here it might as well be. The Delaware was essentially the Northwest Part 2, it worked the same fissures as its predecessor, re-purposing a great deal of the Northwest’s old surface buildings, and utilized a great many more old Northwest dwellings and boarding houses. More importantly the Delaware followed the Northwest, which meant the majority of ruins still standing at the site would most likely of been from it more so then the older Northwest Mine.
The Old Delaware Mine sits directly to the west of the current Delaware (Conglomerate) property. In the photo leading this section I’ve outlined the major structures that continue to stand at the site today, all be it in a ruined state. These include the old Boiler / Engine House on the right and the shaft / rock house to the left. A few other ruins sit nearby, including a long narrow structure we saw a glimpse of outside the Delaware No.1′s rock pile and the powder house (sitting just a few doors down from where the shot above was taken). We also noticed the old boiler / engine house across the road but it was safely behind clearly marked private property so we didn’t have a closer look.
As far as that Engine House ruin we featured a few weeks back, I now believe that may have been part of the rock house for the No.1 shaft, due mostly to its location and the fact that the shaft in question already has its own hoist house. If you look at that photo above once again, you’ll see that the boiler/engine house and rock house are lined up perfectly with each other and you can make out what appears to be a pulley stand standing up between the two.
Old Delaware Location
As with any mine, the old Delaware was accompanied by its own grouping of worker’s housing. These houses sat just to the south of the Old Mine, along an old road that today is a private driveway. A good deal of these houses were originally built for the Northwest Mine, and later ended up serving a new crop of workers at the Delaware. I’m not sure if the photo above is from the Old Delaware Location specifically or from another collection of houses in the area. Either way it provides a good overview of what you would have expected to see taking a stroll through the old town during its prime.
The Conglomerate Mine
While the old Delaware Mine primarily worked a fissure deposit originally worked by the Northwest, the newly formed Conglomerate Mine concentrated its efforts further up the hill along a stretch of the Allouez Conglomerate lode. It did so with the help of three shafts capped by the very distinctive shaft houses seen in the photo above. As evident by the photo the Conglomerate Mine wasn’t the first to mine the Allouez, since its shaft houses sit atop a poor rock pile that was already at the site. That pile is from the Northwest’s No.1 Stoughtenburgh shaft, which had the fortune of double dipping in both the Stoughtenburgh fissure as well as the Allouez Conglomerate.
In fact the No.1 shaft from the Northwest can be see in the photo above, along with its combination engine and boiler house. While the shaft is capped, the old engine house ruins can still be explored as part of the the Delaware Mine surface tour. (as a puzzling side not, that engine house also housed a compressor, which seemed odd to me considering the Northwest’s age). Along with the Northwest’s surface structures, the Conglomerate Mine also had claim to a few buildings of its own, including three wooden shaft houses and a massive boiler and engine house that served both the No.1 and No.2 shafts.
The photo above shows that boiler and hoist building several years after the mine closed down. Amazingly the structure continues to stand in roughly the same shaft still today. It can also be explored as part of the Delaware Mine’s surface tour. (In my opinion this ruin is one of the Copper Country’s most impressive, even better then most you’ll find at Quincy. Definitely a must see)
The Rock House
As we’ve noted before, the Conglomerate Mine utilized a centralized rock house that sat just down the hill from the min itself. A short narrow-guage tramway was built connecting all three Conglomerate shafts to the rock house, where rock cars would dump their loads directly down into the top levels of the rock house for processing. After the building’s array of rock crushers were finished with their lodes, any recovered copper was then dumped down into waiting rock cars along the mine’s other railroad – the Lac La Belle and Calumet Railroad (also seen in the photo above). That rock would then be taken by the railroad down to the mill site along Lac La Belle. While the rock house itself no longer stands we did feature its boiler and engine houses HERE.
To Be Continued…